March 24, 2022 — Recreational and occupational divers should undergo chest CT three months after recovery from COVID-19 before returning to diving, according to research dated March 31 and published online in Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine.
COVID-19 has been shown to have long-term pulmonary and cardiovascular effects that aren’t necessarily linked to disease severity, wrote a team led by Dr. Bengusu Mirasoglu of Istanbul University in Turkey. These effects could make divers vulnerable to diving accidents, which is why it’s important to assess their health after recovery from COVID-19 before they return to diving.
Mirasoglu and colleagues conducted a study of 43 divers who were assessed for fitness to dive with lung CT scans. The team took participants’ COVID-19 history into consideration.
At the time of COVID-19 diagnosis, 68.2% of patients had at least one lung lesion; within the first three months after diagnosis, 73.3% had at least one lesion; and after three months, 19.2% had at least one lesion. The most common findings on CT were ground-glass opacities and fibrosis
Of the 43 divers, 13 were kept from returning to diving due to persistent COVID-19-related lung effects.
“Divers who recover from COVID-19 should undergo fitness to dive assessments before resuming diving,” the group concluded. “A chest CT performed at least three months after diagnosis may be suggested.”